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Exploring The Skill Level and Accidental Competencies For A Capstone Project.
The modern engineering curriculum should accomplish two major tasks: First, analytical, computational and technical skills development. This may be taught in a sequential and linear process in the classroom or Laboratory. The other is design practice where students rehearse most workplace competencies. It addresses real-life problems with open-ended answers and needs to be developed using holistic and adaptive methods not easily taught in the classroom. Highly regarded because of the proven learning outcomes, capstone courses provide students the opportunity for design practice where the students work on real-world engineering projects. However, the dilemma observed is that due to gaps in required competencies students struggle to perform well in these projects and oftentimes the project objectives are not achieved. On the other hand, students also acquire accidental competencies, i.e. competencies not linked to targeted instruction of stated learning outcomes in the curriculum. These competencies can help students perform better in the capstone project. In this study, we will share findings from a pre-survey that explored the skill level and sources of accidental competencies Aerospace Engineering seniors acquired prior to the capstone senior design course.